PARRABUDDY.BLOGSPOT was started to help find a way for “Adaptive / Physically Challenged / Paralympic Cyclists ” to enjoy riding their bikes on the Daily Route of the famous Pro Tour Race Routes such as the “ Giro d’Italia " and the " Tour de France " !

Through lack of support i have been unable to achieve that goal and unless people decide to assist there is little chance that my 19th season will be any more successful !

London 2012 Paralympics was amazing for ALL , not just those participating but those who followed via the Media !

Since 2009 several other Blogs have been created to cover various other subjects !

Below is a guide to their separate purposes :

In the main Parrabuddy is about “Adaptive / Physically Challenged Sport” and Health Issues.

Skippi-cyclist is about personal issues and Road Safety Issues.

SkippyAus is about matters relating to Oz and some personal memories from my life there.

Tourdafarce & Tourdafrance are about matters relating to the Pro Tour , Racers and some personal experiences during my various visits to ride the Pro Tour routes .

Skippy (blogging) is about a variety of issues on the Internet .

NOT ALL postings arrive in their correct area but I will generally try to separate my views on Doping and Sporting Fraud from Road Safety Issues .

Comments ARE WELCOMED since this shows that those reading are interested in the subject matter ! Enjoy comments made to other blogs so wonder why only " anonymous " posts here !

Over the period of these "Blogs" I have had visibility on Twitter as “Skippydetour” and on Facebook as “Skippy Mc Carthy” where Google usually advise postings on the Blogs as they occur .

When any of you visit these Blogs I hope I am able to add value to your day and provide a source of information if not inspiration . Please consider asking your friends and contacts to add their support as many of the Para Athletes are struggling to find the resources to compete in Events at regional Levels let alone National Levels .

You the reader have the possibility to help these Amazing Athletes in your own way and contacting your National Paralympic Internet Site for relevant info is a good start !

Jan 30, 2010


With the World Road Race Championships arriving in Geelong will come the rest of the world. I am speaking of Equipment , Media , UCI Officials ,Protour Team Officials , their mechanics and other support staff , families , friends and supporters. In addition to those with connection to the racing will be visitors with an interest in Cycle racing some of whom will be retired and will have an interest in seeing more of Australia than two cycle events.

I will not be the first to have thought of this but I wonder what has been done in the last years to make sure that those that arrive early for Geelong will prolong their stay so as to be at the Tour Down Under. In recent weeks we have heard mutterings about the TDU being the race event of South Australia but little of making other events more prominent so as to capture the interest of a wider audience. Tourism Australia must certainly be well aware of the huge opportunities provided to them by these two events.

Each of the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France starts and finish sites have huge amounts of equipment trucked in on a dily basis but the Worlds sites set up at the start and at the end strip out their equipment. The point I am making is that there is all this equipment that will be available for use whether for existing events or for events that are created for this period. Many existing events can perhaps be expanded to allow for visiting racers to participate. What UCI regulations need amendment to allow this perhaps temporary arrangement I am sure Cycling Australia can sort out easily enough.

Each cycle season is planned years in advance and to not see the advantages posed by the Worlds and TDU falling within a short period of each other will leave cycle fans wondering about the level of leadership in their sport. This year the TDU was helped by the arrival of two major individuals but throughout the years there has been comings and goings of teams and athletes so there should be a level of flexibility in event management. I fail to see that UCI would refuse to allow variance of regulations during this period so as to allow visiting racers the opportunity to enjoy a prolonged stay with their families in an enjoyable environment.

Every winter the Protour teams and indeed all cycling teams at other levels have get togethers, Team training sessions whatever you like to call these events but on occasion bad weather intrudes so being in Australia could solve some of these needs.

Having looked at the UCI calendars it is easy to see that there is time available to add or upgrade events so as to utilise the opportunities presented by those visiting that wish to remain in Australasia during the Southern Hemisphere Summer months and enjoy a change from the Northern Winter.

Sponsors that do not see the possibilities I am sure will welcome the addition of other Sponsors who do so as that will in the long run benefit them also. The bigger the event becomes the larger the media contingent present thus the possibilities of increased returns for their outlays. Jayco must be feeling pleased that their Tour starts within days of the Worlds concluding and will be hoping that the New Mens World Champions will participate in their event. It goes without saying that the media room will contain more international correspondents than previous years although some will wish to be at the Giro Lombardia.

Cycling Australia and Cycling Sponsors have the opportunity to provide the up and coming talent with better racing possibilities than in previous years. Will they seize this opportunity and present the cycling community with an unrepeated feast!

Jan 26, 2010


How lucky most of us are is emphasized by those who have disability, we get out of bed every day to go to work or play without impediments. Nearly 15% of the population has a disability of a physical or mental nature and by contrast have to solve many issues that we would not even be aware of let alone think of each day. Many of these people started life as we did but through illness or accident have had to build a new life and learn new skill sets to cope and adjust to their new circumstances

Physically injured who have lost limbs are over a period of time in need of a variety of adjustments to the Prosthetics that they were initially fitted with and even have to have replacements fitted through the passage of time. Many sports people have had injury and have had to use crutches and support bandages, effectively for a period of time being themselves disabled. Some illnesses cause healthy human beings to desist from sport and their normal activities. One wonders how many reflect on this and think “there but for the grace of god”?

I raise these subjects because over the years I have had success in avoiding injury and illness but have been aware of the misfortune of others. Recently I have been the victim of “pulmonary embolisms” which has been restrictive as regards the high level of fitness I used to aspire to. Nearly 6 months on I am building the fitness level once again cautiously as I want to be continually fully effective when the spring arrives and the roads are clear.

Watching Larry King Live today I was reminded of the needs in Haiti, prosthetics! Heather Mills demonstrated the item she uses and reminded of the fact that she like others has had replacements throughout the history since her accident. Several websites were mentioned -- .

Some of you will know of Physically Challenged/Disabled people who will have their support groups some of whom will already be aware of the need for these used items but there will be others that will happily donate if this is brought to their attention. Media in various locations can help get the message out to the community at large.

Recently I went onto a Blog and some of those there let me know they were not interested so now I join their “sandpit” let the “Charles Atlases” in their group kick sand in my face but persist in bringing to those other humanitarians there the subject I want to add to their attention. Those denigrating my efforts I now call my “fan club”, I also visit fatty to enjoy a little light relief so I can also see their point of view.

@adventurecorps is running a bike ride soon to raise monies for Haiti and George Hincapie together with Helens is running an event this coming weekend! Please feel free to let me know of others as this will be tweeted as will the link. British TV reported a seven year old looking to raise £500 by riding 5miles on his bike, I have not yet found the website but as of today CNN report $200,000 + raised by his efforts! Can you imagine how this story has snowballed into the success it has become? Remind you of anyone, Susan Boyle perhaps?


Jan 25, 2010


Being retired I have time on my hands to do as I please and this leads me to help in ways and areas that the employed person is unable. Each day there are a variety of things that I am able to turn my time to best use. Everybody likes to feel that at the end of each day they have had good results. This is the main reason for the Blog, to achieve the mission, set in place a mechanism that others will assist or use to allow “Disabled/Physically Challenged Athletes” to participate at the Major Cycle Tours.

As you will have seen I can jump on the bike with a small pack of accessories and cycle the routes of the tours taking each day at a time alone and unassisted. Had I a missing limb I would have a variety of extra needs and would need more than my bike and pack to achieve even the shortest journey. During the 2001 Vuelta I was in the Pyrennees Start Village one day when I came across a one legged cyclist who planned to ride the route that day. We rode together about 100km over some tough terrain and as fit as I was at the time I did not have to slow very much for him to stay in my draft on the climbs.

He had qualified for Sydney Paralympics 2000 but the funds for the trip were not available so watched the event on TV. ONCE the wellknown Spanish charity generally funds the Spanish Blind Athletes but he failed to meet their criteria and his parents and friends were financially unable to raise the monies needed for the trip. Many people are in this situation until they return with a medal from an event. When this happens there is a change of attitude as all want to jump on the bandwagon and found “Fan Clubs” and Sponsors previously reluctant jump forward with assistance for future events. There is now a success story , a track record to justify their involvement. Qualifying for the event is not success enough because there is very little publicity value but being able to display medals is tangible proof of the achievement.

My hope for this year’s Tour de France is that people who are planning to go anyway will give up a little of their free time to help those Disabled Athletes that join in this project. Working with others to help your fellow human beings can be a rewarding experience. I know I was thrilled with this Spaniard getting to the 2000m point on the “Passe de Cassa” where we stopped before the descent into Andorra. I had to persuade him to stop there as he was planning to ride down towards the finish with me. I had to point out that when we got into Andorra getting up to the arrival that day included another strong climb and he did not have the clothing to keep warm whilst waiting until the Vuelta riders had passed. Standing beside the road after a strong climb you become cold and cramp up very quickly. When I saw him at the Time Trial the next days he told me that he got home from our parting but he suffered a cold from awaiting the racers.

For many years I have wished to take a Handbike to the Tours for the publicity value but to do this requires assistance. Breakdowns are possible regardless of preparation and whilst I can fix most problems “Murphy’s Law” will always intrude. Packing a normal bike into a “hitched ride” is easy enough to do, can’t manage with a 2 door VW, a mini or a sports car but most mid sized cars will cope. But imagine the difficulty with a 3 wheeled bike, many kind people will stop to offer their phone or ask if you need help as the possible genuine helpers drive past thinking you are being offered help rather than platitudes.

Once you get the backup there is the possibility that the media will notice the difference and start to report that fact and make the public aware of the story. Too many times over the years I have seen well meaning reports but a lack of substance. Writing about a 64yo Aussie is not the story but there are too many of the media that use this angle.

I AM THERE PUTTING IN THE EFFORT TO GAIN PUBLICITY FOR “DISABLED SPORT”, I could dress up as a “chicken” or as “antler man” or even as “el Diablo ( I have the beard)” and get attention, even get my real name in the media, but the whole purpose is “Disabled Sport”.

Certainly I get benefits from what I do , people will listen to some of my ideas but there are many who say to themselves “same old story”! Without a team of “Disabled /Physically Challenged Athletes and the volunteers to assist I will be back this season repeating the previous 12 years of Solo Effort!

AT present I see One follower on my Blog but then George has a Blog also and does me the courtesy of looking to help me improve my offerings to encourage visitors.

At present I am not getting a registering following but the triple digits of visitors are of people who have taken a look but I would ask that you after looking in help by passing on news of my Blog site to others even if only as a curiosity! Word of mouth or tweeting your followers or whatever means will hopefully reach others who could benefit or put to use some of my ideas.

This past weekend I asked the powers connected to the “Kitzbuhel Ski Event “ to offer my services to others to raise money for Haiti. What I offered was “Find a ski school who will give Euros1000 to the Relief Fund and I will work for them for a week (travelling, bed and feed expenses to be covered away from home) bringing them additional publicity as well as clients . Not really surprised that this has not provoked a rush but I thought the idea may bring out others with the same idea. They sold the Race Bibs worn by the Racers at Auction for some amazing amounts which were added to the Haiti Relief Fund!

THE TDU has finished but there will be others and I think that the next editions will be expanded to both weekends as well as fitting in as the finale to a series of events where more foreign racers will participate ! The Sponsors will do well to realise that by creating an interesting series it will help them and bring more overseas visitors. Some of the photos reminded me of stages on the Tour de France and the crowds were larger that those on some climbs than at the Giro d’Italia and Tour de Suisse


Jan 18, 2010


Six complete days have passed and the Icelandic, Turkish , British, American and other Nations Rescue Teams are still hard at it successfully rescuing survivors! Through their dedication several more uninjured survivors are seeing the light of day. These people buried alive by the earthquake may have survived because they were in the aisles of a supermarket and had access to groceries but if you or I were there what would we have done.

Knowing that 72hrs is the cutoff point in a lot of emergencies it is inspiring to see these people go the extra mile, push through their fatigue and exercise a level of commitment that will be hard to surpass. I do not expect to find myself in similar circumstances but if any of us do then we know that help will always come if we hold faith.

I know no Haitians nor any of those in the teams working there but I say Thank YOU as one human to another for continually risking your life to save unknown strangers!

Each year Australia has a spate of bush fires created in many cases by mongrels for their own amusement! These fires are tackled in the main part by locals who volunteer to the local Bush Fire Brigade. Certainly there are the positive elements to being a member as if you are new to the area you get to meet many in a short time and the social round can be quite enjoyable and the training sessions fly past as you are busy acquiring and practising the skills required in a successful operation. Still there is that element of risk attached , but then if you live in the outback you will depend on your neighbours for assistance as well as being happy to render help.

Mid Seventies I worked in Sydney pushing a pen for a Multinational Computer Company , working alongside a guy who was the essence of the company. In 2000 I passed through Scone where he still lives with his wife who has become the latest victim of big C. He told me of being on his daughters ‘ farm when a Bush Fire came through. He and his Wife had to squeeze into a safe place under some protection as the fire roared over the top of them both, fortunately they survived with their sense of humour intact. Scone is the centre of the Stock horse community of Australia and he told me of how they were involved in the Stock horses featuring in the Sydney 2000 Olympic opening ceremony. I guess seeing the “dunnies and the hills hoists” at the Olympics will be a moment many will never forget.

Olympic and Paralympics events rely on volunteers and I have had the good fortune to be at several of these Summer and Winter Games in that capacity. People of all walks of life can be found there for a variety of personal reasons. Some that I have met there were even competitors at other of these events. Some Volunteers were staying in 5 star hotels and others in hostels but all came to enjoy a great event and contribute to the success .

World Road Race Cycle events of all levels of Competition also rely on Volunteers to assist in a variety of tasks and even at local level you will find the same faces doing the same job regularly over a period of years. Rarely do they get the recognition they deserve and in many cases they are out of pocket for giving of their time and in some cases lose income that their family need so as to do their bit.

Incredibly I just heard that the Medicins Sans Frontiers Field Hospital has been diverted from Port au Prince to travel overland for 24hrs more! A hospital being sent away whilst people are dying of Gangrene! Are these people kidding? A life lost after it was rescued from a nightmare is one too many! Who are these people who cannot allow a HOSPITAL to be landed promptly so as to save more lives. Can you imagine how much effort these people would exercise if it was their kith and kin!

We are nobodies as individuals BUT acting in concert the pressure on our Political Representatives can make the difference! I have been Tweeting CNN, other Media and even some blogs to see if others will join in the swell of demand that needs to be exerted to get better results!


As regards those who feel that the cycling community should not be bothered by my "SPAMMING" , maybe like me you are lucky enough to not know anyone caught up in this humanitarian disaster! Feeling good about being smug does not become anyone!

Jan 17, 2010


The purpose of this Blog has always been to invite people to participate in helping “Disabled Sport” and join me in creating a team which will assist “Disabled Cycle Athletes “ to participate in the tours whether here in Europe where my main focus is or pick up the idea and apply it at the “Tour Of California” amongst other venues.

Seeing the Twitter ride in Adelaide on CNN is a further reminder of the need to include our “Disabled Friends”, was it just the cameras and TV personnel or were there no “Handbikes, Tricycles or Tandems” on hand. Reports of crashes in the group do not surprise me so I was not unhappy to miss the throng. Great PR for the cycling community nevertheless. Could not help laughing at the hilarious badly spelled comments about Education! Comments about being late for work are one thing but complaining about riding in other than single file is another.

Europe is asking drivers to observe a 1 1/2m separation for cyclists and it is a mandatory 1m in most countries, so the campaign for the 1m in Australia is not as excessive as some of those commenters would deem! Single file riding is a non starter as whilst most road users are adults there are many parents riding with their children and naturally ride on the outside as protection. Vehicle drivers who dispute this safety issue are either totally inconsiderate or have a “low boiling point” and seek justification for their tardy behaviour. “How dare a cyclist/s be in my way as I speed to my destination because I did not allow enough time for the journey” is their catchall cry! Any road user should start out leaving time for delay, each day there is some problem that contributes to a late arrival so why “stress “ yourself further by “planning to fail”! when going to a job interview ,do you arrive late? So why are other aspects of your life treated any different.

Great to see Greg Henderson take the win today in Adelaide , a season of setting up the Manxman has equipped him for the podium. Looking at the tweetpic of a speedo on a Radio Shack bike shows how quickly cyclists can move on the road and it is not uncommon for a flat sprint to finish crossing over the line above 71kph. Even better news was that Robbie McEwen was strong enough to finish third and racing alone as is his custom, knows whose wheel to be on for the final metres. Looks as though the Tour Down Under will become the “Thunder from Downunder” this season as I am sure the quality of the racers is better than at most other races until the Tour de France. If this should prove to be the case then there will be an even stronger cast for any event next European Winter Season and I suspect more events for them to participate in. sponsors of TDU should consider demanding more events as the level of exposure of their wares can only increase!

Congratulations are due to “SAPol” for “planning to succeed” their forethought and planning enabled the day to be a success and the majority of the citizens of Adelaide were treated to an event that will become Folklore for those that were there. One hopes their “Ride Like Crazy” event today was equally successful and sponsors will come forward to make the event more and more successful each year.

Those who follow    will have seen my tweets about the situation in Haiti, where a not so comical series of defects in planning have brought about additional and unnecessary loss of life . President Obama gave an order and his planners sleep walked through the preparations in the next days. Earlier this week I stated that the Paratroopers could parachute into the situation, well they arrived in comfort on Saturday but in the interim we were treated to a spectacularly difficult scene of discord. I am referring to the Belgian doctors who were forced to withdraw through a series of misunderstandings and left a field hospital in the care of a reporter , cameraman and assistant.

These Doctors had arrived as Volunteers expecting to be treated with consideration and care. What the Doctors were offered was a night at risk as the relevant authorities , if , there were any available, could not provide or refused to provide basic security whilst they continued assisting those suffering trauma injuries. All day these Doctors gave of their time and energies willingly whilst their admin sought to avoid the crisis that ensued, seemingly their entreaties and warnings were ignored and they were perhaps badly treated by the media reports! My first inclination was to condemn them for leaving their post and patients and I am sure I was not alone in this conclusion, but there is always another side in each story. The truth will come out eventually!

Dr Sanjay Gupta is on assignment by CNN in Haiti and on discovering this drama took over and stabilised the situation by training his team to assist him through many hours of dark and drama, there is very little footage from this period as they were doing a job that they had not had training for. Surprisingly all the patients survived the night even though some had undergone major surgery. The morning saw the returned Doctors on site.

Here is another reason that the Airborne should have been on site earlier, couch potatoes such as I see what needed to be done but the “planners decide what will be done”. there are so many planning faults that need addressing that my suggestion of a “Dedicated Combined Services Response Team” with proper logistical support becomes more necessary than ever. Living in Austria I have access only to CNN as an English speaking TV station so my thinking could be easily swayed by the excellent reporting by a 12 person team. Had my German language skills been better I would no doubt have seen equally as good coverage from other networks pointing up the same shortcomings!

The media were on the scene within a matter of hours and past experience has shown them the short cuts necessary to achieve the most effective results in the shortest time possible. Instead of Admiral Mike Mullen making a Podcast about his efforts he would do well to send his people into CNN and learn some of “the tricks of the trade” so that the “Command Structure” will know what to expect when these occasions arise in the future, as they most certainly will, regrettable as they are. Suffering on this occasion has been unnecessarily prolonged by inadequate preparation and training for disaster relief. The only successes todate appear to be amongst the volunteer teams that reacted spontaneously within hours to the event.

Congratulations are due to the Volunteers from a variety of countries for giving up their comforts to assist their fellows in distress.

Jan 15, 2010



How I would tackle the Logistics

Everyone is concerned for the plight of the disaster victims. Already more than 60 hours have passed and the Media is full of stories.

We saw President Barack Obama promising action! Well CNN reported 329 US troops in Haiti a short while ago!

That was not the action he promised and that was not the action that we the public expected!

In 1944 there was D DAY and although that took years to organise, the plans are there and just need the cobwebs and dust to be removed!

Later there was the Berlin Airlift that was a little more impromtu but put together in a hurry. All those working in both of these efforts are long retired BUT the plans are still discussed in Officer Training Colleges.

WHY I a civilian has to ask the question “ if 3500 Paratroops are mobilised WHY they have not parachuted into the Haiti disaster and delivered aid , whether First Aid or rounding up the transport to move people?

3500 paratroops trained to jump into any environment, 60+hrs after the disaster still not in Haiti?

WHY? They are experienced in all aspects needed in Haiti and have the Medical Supplies and expertise that has all but run out in Haiti. They carry all that they need for days with them and additional items can be palletised and dropped with them or sent in later. There are really no excuses for the lack of action to this time, it looks more like inexperienced Officers covering their ASS!

SAW a welcoming committee for some people arriving off an aircraft, plenty of well pressed uniforms, were they off to a cocktail party ? I don’t care if they were heads of state arriving. There are too many important duties to be dealt with for heads of service to take time out for Meet and Greet”. Have a Victory Celebration at a later date once the lives have been saved but concentrate on the important issues saving lives Now!

WHAT is so hard that the Paratroopers were not airlifted and dropped into Haiti in the first 24 hrs of the quake? OK some of them may have to travel to their base from their family homes in far flung parts of the USA or are on leave out of the country but not each and every body in that organisation was unavailable to fill an advance party. Heard of radios ,heard of sat phones, heard of reacting to an emergency. Getting the job done requires troops to be at Headquarters 24/7/365 or am I misinformed?

The advance party could have been rounding up transport, whether from Haitian Government resources or “borrowing” from inhabitants doesn’t matter. I know any hungry Haitian would have willingly joined the action knowing there was food and water for his family for cooperating.

The advance party could also have scouted out “Landing Zones “ for the troops and pallets following. The people of Port au Prince are going to need somewhere to live in the next months and even years, so why not turn the areas around the “landing Zones” into a settlement area and after the airlift drops finish, these areas can be utilised also. So we have troops on the ground with limited resources clearing the area of impediments to Pallets floating in. it will be necessary to set up a perimeter to keep out the disorder that will follow as “Hungry People “ will see “manna” arriving from the heavens”.

Having established the settlement areas people will start to flow out of the devastated downtown area towards where they see the relief supplies being issued. People will be willing to work once they know their offspring are in a secure area. The able bodied can be put to work erecting tents, digging latrines and constructing flatpack buildings once they become available.

There is an Aircraft Carrier arriving, why are the helicopters not in action ? They have fuel enough to fly in medical supplies and personnel. The media know where the makeshift hospitals are, they may even be able to give the GPS locations so that if necessary the helicopter hovers over the set down zone whilst the personnel rappel in with their supplies and equipment.

Whilst writing this I am listening and watching Larry King Live and hearing criticism of the lack of action to that date hours ago. Watching heartbreaking results of lack of coordination of supplies and resources. Even the director of USAID must be frustrated at how little is achieved at this time, but ever the diplomat is finding reason not to voice all that needs to be said.

Last night I heard Gen.Honore’ give advice on what he would like to see taking place and yet 15 hrs later there are very few signs of his advice being heeded. The only organisation I am seeing succeed is ICE SAR they got themselves from their home in Iceland to Haiti and into action and at this time have accomplished more that all the Speaking heads have together; they have saved a life, perhaps more.

TIME waits for no man and each rescued victim speaks of hearing wailing trapped victims who gradually fell silent whilst they awaited their rescue. Everyone talks of 72 hrs without water being the limit most survive without water. A little light relief was hearing of the person rescued from a candy store. 61+hrs and CNN are still reporting a lack of US action, the might of the wealthiest nation stymied by the lack of creative action. People who are in the makeshift hospitals are dying from simple treatable injuries through lack of the medical supplies that could have been parachuted in with the troops. Looting now in progress and there is no end in sight for the survivors who will become more and more desperate as days pass without succour.

62+ hrs and we are watching people driving around in pickup trucks and CNN reporting that there is no transport to move the incoming supplies, are they kidding? There is improvisation, it is either confiscate the vehicles or allow them to drive their vehicle in “Armed Convoy” to the dispersal points or Hospitals. It is incredible that “ICE SAR” can rescue people and the supplies cannot be moved to the Hospitals. How were the media able to get transport they negotiated for it or rented it , but regardless they took the initiative and got on with the job.

The Port is a disaster but in the early days people used to carry cartons and sacks from the unloaded ships, perhaps some of the supplies can be moved this way. Helicopters also can be utilised to lift off the deck of the ships. Improvise and make do with what is available. The entry road is a problem so instead of using the dump trucks to move bodies use them to build a ramp to fill in the damage between the ships and the road system. All that is missing is the organisation and the will to achieve a result.

At the airport they are talking of fuel problems, I sent a tweet last night to @the joint staff asking that they solve the problem by sending in a Tanker Aircraft loaded with fuel. Did this happen, who knows but aircraft being turned away was a reality last night. Military aircraft have been seen in previous conflicts over flying an area and skidding out supplies, why cannot this be done on this occasion.

Ambassador Merton has to take a stronger position in advising the Haitian Authorities so as to get more prompt cooperation. There can only be one controlling authority and as the UN are facing leadership problems as a result of the disaster and the USA are the strongest and closest nation to this disaster it would seem to be in everyone’s best interests to allow their experts to take the lead in the relief effort organisation. Many flights will have to touch on US airspace on the way into Port au Prince.

At 1500gmt I am seeing on CNN TV, 2 large helicopters at the airport and then @thejointstaff announced that the Aircraft Carrier USS Carl Vinson is off the coast of Haiti. These helicopters have quite a long range so could have been delivering medical supplies and personnel so many hours earlier. Why the delay, why did so many have to die in the interim from injuries that could have been treated if those helicopters had been there earlier with medical supplies and personnel.

Good news folks the Carrier is carrying 19 helicopter., As the Carrier steamed down the coast there could have been many more helicopters flown aboard. There is urgent need for hundreds of these work horses and now an opportunity has been lost. The supplies at the airport have to be moved some how and with the risk of high jacking growing this would have solved some of the problems.

Time is running out for the victims as there are only 3 Operating Theatres aboard the Carrier and 51 beds so it is likely there will be a limited response to treating the huge numbers of injured who are clinging to life. I guess some crew space will be given over to housing the extra treated patients once they are onboard.

19 helicopters are going to be flat out ferrying in patients and despatching the drinking water made on board and the supplies that they are carrying. Seems to me that there is a lack of expertise being demonstrated by the military at this time. Whoever cut the orders did not consider the scale of the disaster and the urgency of providing assistance. Catch up may well be the name of the game but “a stitch in time “ works better from my viewpoint.

Disease prevention is now a top priority and the only way this can be tackled is to move the populace further from the “City Centre” so as to avoid air borne bacterial disease. Families already decimated by the quake now run the risk of further loss due to the lack of organisation in clearing up the unfortunate victims. It is shameful that deceased people have been picked up in dumpsters and carted off to communal graves without any attempt to identify them, but the hot weather dictates how dangerous delay will be to the living.

Below are a selection of the "Tweets I sent these past 24hrs ,starting at 1800hrs 14/01/10

@thejointstaff @cnnbrk when the immediate crisis is over you need to chop out the "dead wood" as Pres.OBAMA must be frustrated with incompetence

@thejointstaff read my blog and respond . your staff are doing an inadequate job solving an immense tradegy !! 33 minutes ago from web

@KevinRuddPM get your mate Barack out of bed to read my blog, he needs to KICK BUTT BIGTIME!! HAITI needs action about 6 hours ago from web

new blog about #HAITI DISASTER in in place. follow as i add more ideas for Pres.OBAMA's people to use!ACT NOW! about 7 hours ago from web

@cnnbrk you report 300US troops, and planes unable to land!Shame the @thejointstaff into using parashute delivery! D DAY was 65y ago! ACTION about 8 hours ago from web

@thejointstaff recruit Gen Honore' & ICE SAR to run the Haiti Op!ACTION NOW! people are dying from neglect caused by lack of US Troop Action about 8 hours ago from web

@KevinRuddPM heard of D day,suggest you get SAS into Haiti by shute to join ICE SAR in organising as US still sitting on their hands!ACTION! about 8 hours ago from web

@KevinRuddPM heard of D day,suggest you get SAS into Haiti by shute to join ICE SAR in organising as US still sitting on their hands!ACTION! about 8 hours ago from web

@whitehouse read my tweet profile,keep you awake nights the lack of action in haiti! paras &supplies by shute NOW! save lives even americans about 9 hours ago from web

@whitehouse Carl Vinson can flyoff med teams &supplies NOW! OBAMA kick butt today,people dying as your planners plan ¬ act!rescue buried! about 9 hours ago from web

@whitehouse Obama promised action on Haiti! 3500paras going!heard of using paraschutes to arrive?people are dying from lack of med supplies! about 9 hours ago from web

@AMANPOUR advised @thejointstaff to get a flying fuel tanker into haiti 12hrs ago and yet cnn just report there is no fuel! KICK BUTT OBAMA about 11 hours ago from web

@thejointstaff where is the fuel tanker that i told you about 12hrs ago! haiti airport needs fuel that you have sitting on ground! WAKE UP ! about 11 hours ago from web

@thejointstaff lives lost in past 11hrs due to lack of action! where are the seabees for the port!rescue dogs & all parascutable about 11 hours ago from web

@thejointstaff flattop nearbut no choppers ferrying med supplies or evac people to empty sick berths! kick butt!improvise!people dying NOW! about 11 hours ago from web

@thejointstaff 5.50gmt CNN advise 300 UStroops on ground! 3500paras coming!these trained in arrival by chute get the passport stampers toL/G about 11 hours ago from web

@thejointstaff went to posed my comment but expect an answer next year with the system in place.NIKE motto "DO IT NOW" about 22 hours ago from web

@kingsthings promises madewhen action needed!@sanjaygupta in hospital empty handed with flattop nearby!chopper in the hands,equip&supplies!! about 22 hours ago from web

@thejointstaff what i see on cnn is buried people dying,parachute in seabee,troops & equip if necessary!solve the snarl with choppers&action about 22 hours ago from web

@thejointstaff Help Haiti by Putting Gen Honore in charge!get More Pants On The Ground clearing access to port and airfield!rescue dogs about 22 hours ago from web

@cnnbrk gen honore s/be in charge. carries the clout and experience!buried people dying whilst we look on!action now not eulogies later svp! about 23 hours ago from web

@cnnbrk promised money helps but overflights s/have spotted problems!dogs needed to find buried,"seabees" can organise the rescue!organise! about 23 hours ago from web

i wonder if anyone read these tweets let alone took action to see if what i highlighted could be of help to the victims in Haiti

68+hrs now, the day is drawing to a close and ICE SAR has found & rescued another victim. These volunteers are worth their weight in Gold. They live on a small cold Island and leave their families to come to this disaster and suffer the extremes in temperature whilst risking their lives to aid and comfort complete strangers. How many of us would give up their comforts to follow their example?

Pres. Obama about to speak, hope he announces some “DCMs” because some are well overdue. CNN says that 10000 troops will now be made available for deployment in Haiti.

WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE is establishment of a “Combined Services Disaster Unit “ on 24/7/365 status so that regardless where in the world a disaster takes place there will be Medical and Organisation team in the Air ENROUTE within the hour, not two days or more later! Could be it will be necessary to have several units based in USA , Europe , Japan and Australia but all on short deployment notice. Dedicated aircraft would have to be fully resourced and on immediate standby to fulfil any mission that will required of these teams.

Gen. Honore’ is retired but has the experience to put the first steps in place, he did a good job in Katrina and has earned the respect of all.

Enough of my tirade, I am a civilian looking in from the outside at a disaster with the likelihood to be as terrible as the 2004 TSunami.

This blog is going to be added to as I put the material together!

Jan 11, 2010

TOUR DOWN UNDER 2011 early start list

Tour down under athlete start list

I am unable to be at this event

Winter in Europe means Skiing but this season the snowline is higher than normal so as yet have not had the touring skis out.

Below are a few comments to give some idea of those that I have met in past seasons. There are some I will be doing an individual blog on as there have been really enjoyable and note worthy contact.

1. DAVIS Allan AUS
met at end of his first TDF TT, rode back
To team area together, good sprinter!
2. PEREIRO Oscar ESP many meetings and rides, nice guy,speaks
English and approachable for photos,etc.
4. GRIVKO Andriy UKR
Team Manager: BONTEMPI Guido ITA


11. ARMSTRONG Lance USA nice easily approachable guy when media
are not around. he has been misquoted by
Them so often! Can you image having to
Choose your words to avoid “misquote!
12. IMPEY Daryl RSA
13. MCCARTNEY Jason USA met and rode with on the odd occasiom
14. POPOVYCH Yaroslav UKR lots of good contact in past years
15. ROSSELER Sebastien BEL
17. STEEGMANS Gert BEL met in previous teams
Team Manager: AZEVEDO Jose POR good managerial skills

21. EVANS Cadel AUS in London told me that he was a Team
Player and had to concentrate on the
Race! Always given me autographs.
22. HINCAPIE George USA the key to Cavendish’s 2009 successes
Lots of time for this great racing Legend
23. KROON Karsten NED
met with at tours
24. WYSS Danilo SUI

25. KOHLER Martin SUI
27. FREI Thomas SUI
Team Manager: LELANGUE John BEL met with JM in 1998 when withASO.

31. DELAGE Mickal FRA
32. KAISEN Olivier BEL
34. LLOYD Matthew AUS great guy whilst with lotto, worker for stars
36. LOWIK Gerben NED
Team Manager: REDANT Hendrik BEL great manager very approachable

41. GREIPEL Andre GER great sprinter, not o/shadowed by Cav 42. ROGERS Michael AUS 3 world TT golds, more to come
44. EISEL Bernhard AUT
45. SIEBERG Marcel GER
46. GOSS Matthew AUS
Team Manager: PEIPER Allan AUS Legendary racer, inspires his racers

51. SUTTON Christopher AUS

52. VIGANO Davide ITA
53. SWIFT Ben GBR met at last Giro, easy going guy
54. HAYMAN Mathew AUS Sky’s gain, Rabobank’s loss
55. DOWNING Russell GBR not reached his potential,yet.
56. FROOME Christopher GBR met in italy, easy going guy.
Team Manager: YATES Sean GBR Legendary racer gets good results.

Ag2r La Mondiale (FRA)
61. ELMIGER Martin SUI
62. DESSEL Cyril FRA ridden rest days and rec’d autographs
63. KADRI Blel FRA
66. RAVARD Anthony FRA
67. TURPIN Ludovic FRA
Team Manager: BIONDI Laurent FRA

71. McEWEN Robbie AUS blog coming, best of Aussie sprinters
72. PLIUSCHIN Alexander MDA

77. KLIMOV Sergey RUS
Team Manager: KONYCHEV Dmitri RUS

81. OGRADY Stuart AUS Long time success, blog coming.
82. VOIGT Jens GER Impressive palmares, great guy
84. COOKE Baden AUS met his parents at Luxembourg
85. HOJ Frank DEN ridden with on rest days
86. HAEDO Juan Jose ARG
87. LUND Anders DEN
Team Manager: McGEE Bradley AUS All time FavAussie, Inspiratioal!

91. FOESTER Robert GER Great sprinter whilst at Gerolsteiner
92. FOTHEN Markus GER

93. ROELS Dominik GER
96. ROBERTS Luke AUS met with teams in europe

Team Manager: ALGERI Vittorio ITA

101. CHEREL Mikael FRA
102. PINOT Thibaut FRA
104. ROUX Anthony FRA
105. SULZBERGER Wesley AUS met at worlds in Stuttgart
106. CAZAUX Pierre FRA
107. VICHOT Arthur FRA
Team Manager: BRICAUD Thierry FRA

111. VALVERDE Alejandro ESP Blog coming on this old contact
112. SANCHEZ Luis Leon ESP

113. ROJAS Jose ESP
115. GARCIA Jose ESP
116. DRUJON Mathieu FRA
117. PERGET Mathieu FRA
Team Manager: STEPHENS Neil AUS 1st contact in TDF1998, b/bone of
Aussi Road Race Team.

121. SICARD Romain FRA reg. rest day training with this team

124. MINGUEZ Miguel ESP
125. NIEVE Mikel ESP
126. SESMA Daniel ESP

131. BROWN Graeme AUS met at Trentino in early days

133. FLENS Rick NED
137. WEENING Pieter NED
Team Manager: MAASSEN Frans NED

141. DALL ANTONIA Tiziano ITA met some in Italy
142. KOREN Kristjan SLO
144. PATERSKI Maciej POL
145. FINETTO Mauro ITA
146. SAGAN Peter SKV)

Team Manager: MARIUZZO Dario ITA

151. BOBRIDGE Jack AUS met at Mendrisio, good luck!
152. DEAN Julian NZL lots of contact over many Tours.
153. MEYER Cameron AUS
154. MEIER Christian CAN
155. LOWE Trent AUS rode Giro training in Genoa
156. HUNTER Robbie RSA
Lots of contact at various teams
157. WILSON Matthew AUS met in Europe
Team Manager: WHITE Matthew AUS see Blog, inspirational leader

161. BENITEZ ROMAN Jos Alberto ESP met some of these guys at Giro 2009
162. CARDOSO Manuel POR
165. MERLO Michele ITA
166. PEDERSEN Martin DEN
167. VITORIA David SUI
Team Manager: MATXIN Joxean ESP

171. VAN IMPE Kevin BEL all new to me
172. FACCI Mauro ITA
173. KVIST Thomas Vedel DEN
174. MAES Nikolas BEL
175. ENGELS Addy NED
176. VAN DE WALLE Jurgen BEL
177. STAUFF Andreas GER
Team Manager: SLYCKE Rik Van BEL

181. MATTHEWS Michael ACT all new to me, good luck guys!
182. DENNIS Rohan SA
183. CLARKE Simon VIC

184. ROE Timothy SA
185. CANTWELL Jonathan QLD

186. McDONALD Peter NSW
187. Australia open road champion (TBC)
Team Manager: SANDERS Dave (AUS)
More teams will be announced soon.

Tried to remember some of the names not commented on but with the helmets and glasses some racers look so alike. That has caused me to call out a greeting with the wrong name more than once.

Hoping that these notes are helpful to those of you visiting the race in Adelaide.

DOPING, again I am reading of an individual who is as yet under suspicion, but just that is enough to put his fellow racers careers in jeopardy. Not only that but the team helpers are now looking at a bleak future. In this case the South African Sponsor has withdrawn from the sport and if by chance the racer is cleared the damage has still been done.

WHEN are the mugs going to understand that their selfish behaviour will lead to others and their families being hurt? Sponsors are too valuable a resource for individuals to take for granted.

Next time any racer considers taking a substance that is banned, they should think about chopping off a leg instead! They will suffer but their team , family and friends won’t. Sorry Folks but there is no excuse for this shameful behaviour and at least the Europeans are making Jail time an option on conviction.

On a personal note anyone in the area of Adelaide knowing Eddie or Willie Van Muellengraef who grew up in Mannum, have them contact me please.

At the 2004 Tour de France there was a couple in a Camper, he worked for a bank and they had four children, one of which had learning difficulties. They posted an Australian Flag to me in Athens. At that time changed server so I lost their email address amongst many others.

Jan 10, 2010

EL DIABLO aka Didi Senft

First meeting of “El Diablo” was at 1998 Tour de France on the Friday I was being accompanied by the TV3 broadcast crew who were recording my activities that day. I had passed him in previous days and seen some of those activities that you see on TV. Normally as I ride the route several hours in front of the race I will find him around 25km before the finish . He will be meeting and greeting the public and “Sponsors’ Personnel” as they pass along the race route. Generally he is bare-chested whilst hanging around his van and trailor if he is towing one of his “bikes”, although he will put on the shirt and skullcap to oblige those looking for photos.

Some Sponsors drop off food and drinks as well as “gadgets”. So I have come to expect that he will oblige when I need a cold “coke or other fizz drink” as I pass. I recall on the Giro in the earlier years arriving at the bottom of a climb just before the finish, I was about done energy wise. He gave me a “power bar gel” and after a chat not only climbed the hill but did the following circuit as well. Coming onto the climb for the second time I was caught by the Peleton so had to get off the bike and watch as the first racers went by. The people there had a BBQ going outside their shop so I was invited to join in and a couple of the racers commented on my luck as they passed. In fact I then started passing out water as some of the back markers passed.

The 2009 Tirreno-Adriatico Time Trial route passed this way on a Sunday but there was nobody there this time , I guess it was their day off. I still found a gathering to join, the Italian hospitality is one of the things I have come to enjoy at the tours. Families think nothing of inviting people even strangers to tuck into their feast which generally is a competition by the various ladies to provide the best of their cooking and baking. At various tours I have come across Anzacs on the side of the routes because these people have told me of them. When they do this I ask if they would like to invite them to join the party. I have had many emails from both hosts and invitees about how they enjoyed their day. I on the other hand was off down the road to the finish in most cases.

These days whenever he is in or around the “Tour Villages” he has his Journo mate with him as he seems to be the PR element but on some occasions he has his lady with him. He gets to go inside the village from time to time at the expense of some of his “Sponsors”.

You will find Didi at the World Road Championships and occasionally at the Giro d’Italia and Tour de Suisse usually with the van. When he flew into Sydney on the Friday afternoon he walked the 15km from the airport to the opera house and settled down for two nights in the botanic gardens which border on the Governor’s home. Didi had welded five cog wheels into the “Olympic symbol” to hang around his neck. Dressed in his costume he was a familiar sight, but to the security guards well, they chased him out several times as a danger to the public.

Sunday morning I was riding Centennial Park with Jeannie Longo when I was the trident chalked on the road, seeing some people sitting there I discovered that it was a “crazy man dressed in red and black carrying a rubber fork”. Pretty obvious who it was to us cycle fans, so I tried cycling around hoping to find him. After about an hour I asked some cycle cops if they had seen him and gave my mobile number for the contact. I had been told about his nocturnal activities so I went down to the security post and explained who he was. They thought the cogs were “ninja rings” but were surprised to hear he was in the “Guinness Book of Records”. Late afternoon I got a call from the ambulance cycle guys saying that Didi (they had another name) was seen sleeping in Hyde Park near the memorial, so over I went there.

When my shadow dropped on Didi he opened his eyes and went “Skippy”, apparently I was the first person he had come across who knew who he was. Didi speaks no English so could get no help with taxis, accom or eating and he had a small soft backpack with change of underwear,etc apart from the rubber trident with him. Talk about travelling light! I decided the best plan was to get him to a german who could translate and arrange matters for him. Getting him to come with me to central rail was a chore as he didn’t want to leave the city but I dragged him with my bike down the road. Seeing him with a cyclist and bike caused the penny to drop as several people stopped us and asked for a photo.

On the train to Stanmore and the Concordia club we were surrounded by cycle fanatics who were grabbing autographs and photos. When we reached the Concordia club the manager proved to be a real fan as he gave Didi a bed in his own home which was near Centennial Park. Next day I saw Didi with Ron Niewand walking the park and on the Tuesday I took him out on “Big Foot” the boat I was living on during the Sydney have all seen Didi leaping in the air on land, well the Wednesday edition of the SMH has his photo with him airborne on water! From then until he flew out on the weekend he was the star once again. He wrote an interesting story of his Sydney visit, class it as fiction!

During subsequent Tours Didi has carried my bags and given me rides when the Peloton has passed, one occasion was a Sunday in 2001 out of the Maurienne valley towards Grenoble where the rest day was to be on the Monday. I was at the hotel when Lance arrived from the race, amongst those waiting was a couple who had visited George Hincapie at Bollene on the Dauphine Libere. On that visit I received a bottle of their wine and was lucky enough to have a repeat donation. Their vineyard is on the slopes of MT Ventoux and it was a very nice wine. Looking forward to renewing the friendship but George will have to give me the email address. On the Tuesday we had the ITT to Chamrousse which I rode several times in years past. It is a favourite ski resort from earlier years.

This year Didi was parked on the last climb to Gran Bornand ,the Col de Columbiere , arriving at his van after passing through a storm I was able to grab a welcome refresher. At that time there was still a strong headwind as it was on a open slope but a little higher up the wind moderated and at the top the rain had stopped but the blockade was in place, so through the mud to the back of the control and on the bike for a rapid descent and warmer weather the further I went. By the time I was stopped at the 1km mark corner I had dried out and was presentable enough to catch up with Nicolas Sarkozy at the finish of the Arrival formalities. I saw Didi during the climb to MT Ventoux but that day I was in a hurry to get over the top before the Gendarmerie started imposing order on the awkward visitors who thought this old fart should be walking the climb like they were.

I let my feet pedal as if you can walk it you can ride it, but there are many times in many tours where people have to get out of their car to walk in to a viewing spot. Because of this they then treat the riders with a lack of respect! How can you go to watch the “profis “ in action and treat the “amateurs” with disrespect, it’s beyond me!

Didi’s winter exploits continue , as seen in this photo!

Didi’s winter exploits continue in the photo!

LANCE and me..

There are too many occasions that I have enjoyed meeting Lance to document here. He is always approachable, friendlier on most occasions than some of the Aussie racers. The press always makes him appear standoffish but that I think is because he has to consider how , what he says can be used at a later date. Whilst I get along with Phillipe Brunel of L’Equipe I do not have to worry about whether what I say to him will be lost in translation. The press like to have the last word and since most only get paid for a story , then the more sensational it is the more money and recognition they receive. It is all too easy to slander/libel a personality. Publishing or broadcasting a retraction at a later date does not do the job as the reader/listener does not always hear of the truth being established or the retraction being made.

The Tall Poppy syndrome is a subject we are all aware of and the media likes to utilise this practise to their advantage. Even I , a loose cannon , gets articles written about me which can be misconstrued . Several times I have been referred to as a “Vagabond” or “Baroudeur ( not sure what the French mean)”in the French Media publications such as “Dauphine Libere”.

As you will see from the newspaper cutting I had the luck to be outside the Monaco Hotel as Lance arrived on the Wednesday from the airport. The guy beside me there, Ken is currently in treatment for Cancer and provided the Video that you may choose to click on. Thursday evening after the Team Presentation I met up with Lance and rode back to the Hotel where he and the team autographed the $US1m tricot, “Skippys Legacy”. The Tricot is still available to raise monies for a foundation to assist “Paralympic Sport and Disabled Athletes” .

The final TDF Time Trial in 2005 I was out to the team hotel in St Etienne where I met Luke and the Twins in passing. When I returned to the Time Trial training area I came across John Kerry walking across to the Discovery Team area. After introducing myself I diverted him to the Euskadi team area where I introduced him to Zavier their Pullman driver so he could act as translator. Whilst this was happening up rushed a short, stout fellow saying “I’m the president, I’m the president.” everyone broke up laughing as he was indeed the president ,of Euskadi Team. Kerry took this all in good humour. I then took John over to the Phonak team where Andy Rhys, the owner did the intros and then afterwards a few quick words with Quickstep before John Kerry had to go to his appointment with Eddie Merckx at the Discovery Pullman. Eddie is a long time friend of Lance so it was normal to find him there. I had a quick hello with Eddie and collected John’s autograph for the “MacMillan Nurses”.

Another year ,2004, I was at the Discovery Pullman when I met Robin Williams who arrived there with Lance. Robin asked me to visit San Diego to support one of his charities. I of course agreed to do that if it was a sponsored trip. Still available, Robin , but airfares and living expenses please! At the tour there is always a scrum outside each Pullman so it is hard to hold a conversation with anyone without interruption, so chances are the email address was lost or misplaced.

Here is a link to a video of Lance with Robin I give you this link as i hate going on to the web through a tweet and clicking on an item and losing 20+Mb on something i am not really interested to see. Your choice to make therefore

2001 the Tour de Suisse started in Rust, Germany. I arrived at the US Postal team camper greeted Tony Doyle and then asked Lance to declare support for “Behinderten Sport” as the Germans call “Disabled Sport“, then during the next days I saw him several times and of course followed up on this request for action. He asked me at the Time Trial if I thought he had enough just covering his cancer activities. I replied he wrote that he was disabled by Cancer.

In articles relating to @wwpinc and “Soldiers Ride” I see mention of events associated with “Mellow Johnny’s” and ask myself if this is since Lance bought in or was a longstanding policy. Seeing photos of Chris Horner talking to the guys on the “Soldiers Ride” website was worth archiving!

In 2006 I met Lance at his personal hotel, we only spoke for a few moments as we walked out of the Hotel to his car, he was definitely more affable and approachable since leaving racing. It seems to me that this attitude has carried through into his return to Racing as every time I see him he appears much more relaxed compared to the earlier seasons.

When I arrived in Jesolo I caught up with team Astana as they rode out for training, Levi was riding alongside Lance as I greeted them , exchanged a few words then left them to get on with “Team Time Trial training. Greeted him later at the hotel where he autographed the “Rubber Ducky” for the local charities. Found myself riding with the team again on Friday but I was on my way elsewhere at the time so was unable to go to far down the road with them. every time you join these guys they are in high spirits joshing with each other as if they haven’t seen each other for months.

On the Cinque Terre I was with some Italians when I saw Lance and Levi coming up the hill so I hopped on the bike and joined them. Even though they were on a reccie they were moving at a fairly quick tempo, luckily it was only 3kms till the ascent eased off and I could catch my breath whilst heading for the Time Trial arrival area.


When I first started riding the “Grand Tours” in 1998 I had little idea of who was who, certainly I knew of “Miguel Indurain, Eddie Merckx and Chris Boardman. I had of course seen “Tour de France” on Channel 4 or BBC sport but my sports at that time were Skiing, Sailing, Kayaking, Rowing, Tennis and Swimming. In a sports quiz I would have been hard pressed to name the principle cycle races let alone the current winners and naming the past winners would have been beyond my expertise.

Riding Richmond Park as training in 1998 I would have had names tossed at me and I would have blanked. The first time I rode with Peter Haining as an example it was a surprise to me when I found out who he was. World champion rowers do not carry signs with them and so it was that people would say to me “do you know who you were riding with just before” frequently as they were regular park visitors and I was the new boy on the block.

As previously mentioned in other Blogs I would ride with the teams on rest days and at times I would have cuttings of team lists with me so as to see who was who. On rest days the racer number is still there on the bike and if you are lucky you also see the name on the bike, but otherwise you can be clueless as to who is being kind enough to find the English to practice it on you. Many of the current stars would have been patient with me in those days and I have no doubt that I occasionally still mix up the names of the racers. Maximillian Codol let me make this mistake for several seasons as I always addressed him as “Alex Camerzind”, not a great deal of difference in team kit but shape and facial features are quite different. Max was quite gracious in taking me aside to tell me rather than doing it in front of the team.

Lampre team call me “Johnny” and I am not sure where the joke started but there was a mechanic by that name who was always getting ribbed by his elders. Whichever tour I was at as I arrived the call would go up “Johnny” and the place would breakup in laughter. Occasionally Johnny would not be on the roster so someone would pull their mobile phone and make a call and pass it to me to speak to the other party. Most of the time I don’t know who I am talking to as they are speaking Italian and I am able to understand “caio and dopo” and a few other words but a conversation is completely beyond me. Hospitality is the key word with these guys and they have treated me like royalty on many occasions. Thanks Guys !

Fondriest was the bike supplier to Lampre in 1998 and for several years after, so I came to know both Francesco and Maurizio quite well. I was always welcomed at the factory and shop with coffee and sandwiches. Several seasons I was provided with a frame starting with a Lampre team alloy frame, then an Aluminium Molven and finally a Carbon frame. Each time we made the change the work in the factory would stop and the bike was built up in front of me thus I came to know a fair bit about bike repairs and the quickest way to fix a problem on the side of the road. Since the factory has closed I do all my own work although I still visit the experts on the teams for advice if there is something of serious concern.

In past Blogs I have mentioned the many courtesies extended to me over the years by Team Personnel. Each of these people have their own personality and as some teams will have as many as four tours going on in the same time frame, there are occasions when I do not see some people from one year to another. The racers move around the teams and that gets into the cycling news, but when they move there will also be a change in the team support staff. Working with the teams are the relatives of some of the racers and when the brother or nephew moves on so in some cases does the relative. Many of the support staff are former racers from the road and also track .

The photo is of Valentin, chauffeur extraordinaire, was at Once when I first met him , then at Discovery, next at Astana and my guess is this season he will be with Radio Shack. There was at Kelme a Spanish World champion cyclist but although he later worked for Phonak and continued to help me in any way he could , I never was able to get the whole story because of language problems. These guys are really amazing as they live in the present and rarely do you get to hear about their past successes.

Fabian Jeker retired several years ago and now owns a cycle business in Spain but arrives at the Tour de Suisse where he ferries VIP guests along the daily route. At the Giro d’Italia you find Francesco Moser,Gianni Motta and Maurizio Fondriest cycling with guests on behalf of a Bank owned by Italy’s richest man, Prime Minister Berlusconi,not seen him at the Giro but met him in “Casa Italia” at Torino 2006. Davide Cassani and Paulo Bettini work together with Auro Bubborelli on the RAI TV program. Gianni Bugno flies a TV helicoptor and there are a wealth of other retired cycling talent working around the “Giro d‘Italia”. Tony Rominger was on the management of Tour de Suisse for several years .Bernard Hinault is management at the Tour de France. Of course the Teams’ management is loaded with former racers Felice Gimondi and Bjarne Riijs amongst them.

Every tour has a variety of Media personnel with “Expert Commentators” the majority of whom come out of road racing. So people like Raymond Poulidor whilst he is the Face of Credit Lyonaise Bank will laise with TV3 at the tour. Richard Virenque will act on behalf of “Carrefours Supermarkets some of the day and be on TV for a French channel the rest of the day. Laurent Jalabert again is on Radio, on the motorbike commentating during the race and then on the Stage TV program at the arrival, if not also later in the evening. David Duffield came out of riding Tricycles, David Harmon and Sean Kelly from riding bikes; and so it goes on. Sharing the German TV lunch table at the Tour I would find myself alongside Rudi Aldig Rudi Pevenage or Michael Rich and a variety of other guests.

In the back area of these Tours the Hospitality area would host guests from other sports and at the Giro I have met “Alex Zanardi(hoping he will be at the Giro TT again this year), Stephano Baldini(met him at Casa Italia in Athens) and Rosa Motta(met her in Athens torch relay). At the Tour the Guest List is stellar so will leave that subject for now.

Every team has experts attached for training purposes and as an example look at Columbia with Eric Zabel, Rolf Aldag and Alan Peiper . Cippolini works with an Italian team when not involved in his other persuits. Bjarne Riijs regularly rides with his team. On the rest days I have found myself riding along side Pullman chauffeurs and team chefs some of whom are retired racers. Each year the Tour has a celebrity ride on the morning of the Time trial, usually I manage to get invited in by some of these riders but after a while a Tour Official will take umbrage and ask me to leave, this year it was Captain Eric who both times was able to give me the heave-ho, he is not easily recognised in cycling gear but this was the first chance to ride alongside Bernard Hinault. Somewhere in group there was Laurent Fignon who is suffering cancer at present.

The Tour of Romandie is a race I look forward to as in past years it has a Time Trial Course which the Ladies come to race on. It is always a pleasure to see the likes of Jeannie longo ,Onone Woods, Sara Carrigan and Kerstin Armstrong outside the World Road Races. The only other chances have been at the Olympics at Athens when I was allowed to ride Official training when the roads were closed. One of the brits remarked that they had spent a billion on security and there I was riding with the athletes without hassle. At this time I have yet to visit a Ladies Road Race to see the contrast between how the men’s and women’s races are supported.

Jan 7, 2010


this is a copy of a painting from "ART4RACING"

I came across Jan several times before I got the chance to ride alongside him. Giro del Trentino of 1999’s final day had it’s Arrivo in Arco so the teams’ hotels were in that area. After riding the route and watching the finish I headed down to the team Pullman parking area. Having stocked up on some goodies I saw the “Telecom guys “ heading out so jumped on the back , asked one of the guys if OK and got the shrug, so worked my way through to ride alongside Jan when the gap was there. Not too sure how much he knew as he asked if I was the Aussi and how I enjoyed the giro and where I stayed, etc. when he found out I was staying in Arco he asked why I was riding this way, seemed bemused that I was adding to my daily total kilometres , as he asked how my muscles were doing. Would you pass up the opportunity to ride 20km out of your way with one of the legends?

Jan’s brother worked as a mechanic with the team and was a little more difficult to talk to at first but as time passed and I was seen riding regularly with the team he got to be quite helpful with mechanical advice. With the team is without doubt one of the finest people you would wish to meet. Perry is an exceptionally talented mechanic but also a warm and generous human being. I came to his notice on the first evening of the “Rundfahrt Ossterreich” in 1999. He had asked me about why I was there and I told him about having ridden the “Giro d’Italia and then coming overnight to this race , then I would go on to the “Tour de Suisse before the Tour de France in July.

Perry went “bullshit” until a mechanic from “lLiquigas/Pata” told him he had passed me in his team truck most days as I rode that route, also that he had cleaned the bike a few times. Perry went “excuse my manner but if you come to me any time , I will help you where and when I can“. Over the years regardless of the circumstances or the team he has been working with , he has been helpful and generous with his time where it did not interfere with the team business. The 2008 Giro d’Italia started from near Palermo on the Sunday , I had ridden there but as I approached the start area the “Stem “ popped a screw and so I had no handlebars and no chance of going anywhere. When I found Perry he opened up his toolkit ,sorted through the odds and ends and found two screws to solve that problem. The rest of that day and most of that Giro passed without too many problems.

There are many others that have Perry’s kind disposition and they have been kindly and patient with me. As said before without their kindness I doubt that I could have continued many times. Getting knocked off the bike in the suburbs of Rome by a woman opening her door into me, didn’t help the start of the “2000 Giro d’Italia”. With broken handlebars and the Roman cop giving me the brushoff I went looking for the teams nearby as I had no idea how to find a bike shop if there was one in that area or nearby. One team offered to do the work if I found the handlebars and another mechanic pulled the handlebars off his bike and installed them on mine. Really generous gesture and I see him still working with the star teams.

Kelme team mechanics were “Senor(now retired) and Henaro(phonetic)”, on my 1998 tour I met them and the Sougnier many times . They passed me sandwiches and helped me out with parts and repairs, and bike cleaning many a time. Henaro only arrives at the tours I ride when his team is wild carded these days, it will be my 13th season this year and I hope I am lucky to find him at some point during this season .The Ochoa brothers were in some of the rest day rides and I remember getting treated as the oddball and the “piss” taken many times as we talked in a mixture of gestures and languages. Javier Ochoa survived a road rage incident although he lost his brother in the training event. Too many times some “oddball” will pull up haul out a stick, spanner or other implement to take issue about “WHAT?”, who knows which rock they crawled out from under? Ochoa rides these days in “Paralympics Races” and represents Spain . Not sure when the law will settle his claim for damages from the “accident “ or if the culprit/driver will avoid being locked up. The driver will most likely be told not to be “naughty anymore and get lost”. How do you replace a human life?

More about Ochoa Brothers in the Dec 09 segment titled “Challenge”. Talking about strange behaviour I was at the Athens Time Trial training when Big Mig came across me , he had me wait about then introduced me to the Spanish Minister of Sport, during the discussion it came out that he had met me in the Greek Sport Minister’s office briefly in a group. Having told him I could not be at the Vuelta as I was going to be at the Paralympics he suggested that it would be a great loss if I did not make the trip.

After speaking with Big Mig and others I cycled down the road and came across Jan preparing to reccie the course, asked him if I could join him and was told to follow as he wanted to concentrate on the ride and that is how it went , just as well really as I was able to draft most of the time when he was riding ahead, put me on the front once or twice after the climb. Eventually we came across Vinky who was also reccieing the course and with Michael Rich. As we headed back towards the start point we were overtaken by a 4 wheel type truck who virtually brushed Michael off the road. The others stopped for Michael who the driver had been bellowing at before he put him off the bike, I chased after the idiot called out to a cop who was going the other way and after he came alongside had him radio ahead to the control to pull the idiot. After about 3km I came up to the cops with “MR VIP” and explained what had taken place. Michael and Jan rode past down to the team area where the cops took the driver. Eventually money or influence took charge as the “head cycling volunteer” told me all was in train and I could disappear as was no longer needed, even as a witness. I went back to “Deutscher haus beside the stadium where I reported the story but there was no further action, Michael not being injured I guess it was easier to sweep the matter under the carpet.

It took me a week to get to the Vuelta Grand Depart in Northern Spain and for very little benefit as the media had little interest in talking about Paralympic sport. Then I got robbed of my “Olympic shirt” by a French postman at our hostel in Zaragoza. Took most of the week to get back to Athens Paralympics where things improved considerably. Most of the journey to and from was spent riding about 100 miles a day and hitching through the night, catching up with my sleep on the ferries was the only good part of each trip.

There are many more memories of time with Jan such as at San Remo where I was also with Marco on that Giro. These events will be recounted in another Blog at a later date.

Meanwhile remember we are riding on postage stamps and the idiots are in their metal coffin looking for an excuse to remodel their panel work, take no chances as you are not the cat of nine lives.


Jan 3, 2010


When you wish to ride with a Racer or Team of Racers it is important to find the “Main Man” and ask their permission. Of course they could say no ! That, is their prerogative, they are out for training and really need to relax and enjoy their colleagues company also you are an unknown and perhaps a danger. They do not know how you will react in an emergency. Being hit from the rear can disrupt their day, even worse you go down and take others with you!

Case in point was a rest day in Bordeaux with the tour. In the morning I was riding with US Postal. I got to rag Salvodelli about the Italian Diving Team playing the Aussie soccer team in the World Cup Going down the road I spotted the Lampre Team so I did a quick U turn and rode with them for a while of course I was well known so they were up for the banter. Further down the road i then joined another team, Team Telecom and returned with them to the hotel area. After lunch I spotted Stuey on his way out so I galloped up alongside. He was on the mp3, when I caught his attention I asked and he said he would rather listen to the music so I left him to enjoy the ride in peace.

Mentioned before that I rode training with “Jaffa”, Freire and Garate at Monaco. I asked the guys to go easy on me as they were “fooling around” in the city area, sprinting then slowing down looking around then going full bore up the slopes. Well I don’t get up the hill as quickly as they when the muscles are cool and that day was overcast and chilly . After about ½ hr I was happy for them to get on at their training pace as they were going around the Time Trial route which I had done several times by then and was aware that I would get smoked.

When Kelme was riding the Vuelta one year I was at Jaen for the rest day. I had checked in and was welcomed. Along the route we were joined by some good local riders they continually separated me from the team and as I didn’t know the dynamics I put up with having to chase back to the back of the team. After a while the leader dropped back to the “locals” said some things and then told me to go to the front to ride tempo for a while. As the ride progressed the locals dropped out and we pulled up at a service station café for drinks . We then carried on ,caught and passed the locals then there was another café stop. On the way back I started out in the middle of the pack but soon found myself struggling to maintain the pace. After a while a team car draughted me back into the pack at the top of a climb. I arrived back in Jaen with a lot of ribaldry from the guys.

The Thursday starting at Strasbourg I was riding in towards the Start/Permanence area when Euskatel was riding out for training, they called out to me so I turned and caught up with them. The ride took us west into a variety of climbs. There was another Aussie there and he was able to draught most of the climbs but I was struggling on the last so the team car gave me an assist for the last part of the climb. When we reached the top there was a racer waiting to pull me back to the group. The descents were easier as I am heavier and it was only when we got closer to Strasbourg they decided to practice Team Time Trial on the final part of the route into their hotel.

Liege one year the start of the ride was with the Lotto team but as the pace quickened and then started up a strong climb I gave up the chase as I saw another team heading back into town. Enjoyed chatting to Ciaran Power for a while as the other AG2R racers were mostly French and whilst I can muddle through it is harder when you are struggling for breathe. Later as the weather changed I found myself riding to the “Permanence” in heavy rain with the Euskadi team. We were crossing tram tracks at a quick tempo and on a tangent so I was glad to be at the back as I was expecting trouble at any moment. It was almost impossible to see the racer in front let alone the road surface because the sunnies were fogged up and the rain and water off the tyres were splattering into the eyes.

Another year we had a rest day in Pau, I went out with Team Telecom towards the west and after an hour the weather started to look iffy. When the first drops arrived the guys decided that the hotel was a good idea and so the main group with me in tow started back. The tempo got to be pretty quick and hanging in was getting difficult. As I was losing touch the team car came past with Jan and others in tow. Well I tried to get on but just as I was feeling the draught a local who was on pulled across with chain problems and left us both floundering, I got back to the hotel well behind the others but luckily the rain storm did not arrive.


For many years I have tried to ride the Rest days with the team wearing the Principle Jersey, so at Limoges I rode out to Raymond Poulidor’s village with Tomo Voekler. With Cunego and Simoni in the Giro d’italia and Carlos Sastre and Roberto Heras in the Vuelta. Many times there are media there so it is necessary to try to stay out of the picture, even riding behind the team car on occasions. When they get too far behind ,playing catch up can be a long tiring ride. On rest days for the teams I sometimes find I am riding more kilometres than on a race etappe. Gets to be a long day when you go from the day before’s finish through the night to be there in time to join the ride . Even worse when the weather is adverse as happened in Montpelier one time when I hooked up with CSC. Getting there was during a rain storm but it blew through before the team started down the road. Many times I ride the etappe in the rain and watch the race on Tv and see the racers in sunshine, timing is everything.

Many more memories at a later date. I feel like the “Professor” in his study with you acting as “Harry Potter” ,pouring memories into a bowl for us all to relive.